This Sleep Better Strategy Might Be For You

Are you finding it challenging to resist the urge to check your phone before bed? You’re not alone. Many of us struggle with this habit, which can disrupt our sleep. However, a recent study published in PLoS One suggests that making a simple change in your bedtime routine can lead to better sleep. By putting your phone away just 30 minutes before bedtime, you can experience significant improvements in the quality and duration of your sleep. In this article, we’ll explore the findings of this study and provide practical tips to help you create a phone-free sleep routine that promotes restful nights.

A quick disclaimer, though: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to improving sleep. While this study supports the idea of restricting phone use before bed, everyone’s sleep patterns and preferences are unique. What works for one person may not work for another. However, if you’re someone who likes to rely on data and evidence, these study findings may inspire you to give this approach a try.

1. The Logic Behind Reducing Phone Use

Reducing phone use before bed goes beyond minimising exposure to blue light. It also helps reduce exposure to emails, texts, videos, and social media posts that can induce stress and heighten arousal. The study revealed that the 30-minute phone ban before sleep significantly reduced pre-sleep arousal, making it easier for you to relax and fall asleep.

2. Beware of Falling Asleep Too Early 

Engaging in activities that make you feel sleepy too early can disrupt your sleep routine and negatively impact the quality of your rest throughout the night. Falling asleep before your regular bedtime can throw off your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, it’s important to maintain consistency and avoid sleep disruptions by sticking to your regular bedtime.

3. Embrace Small Changes

Instead of completely turning off your phone at 7 p.m., which might feel overwhelming, start with the more manageable task of putting the phone away just 30 minutes before bed. It’s crucial to gauge your readiness and willingness to adopt this change on a scale of 1 to 10. If 30 minutes seems challenging, start with a smaller timeframe, like 25 minutes, and gradually work your way up. By shrinking the task, you increase the likelihood of success and build momentum.

4. Adjusting the Task Size

Even if you initially believe a task is the right fit, it’s possible that it may still be too large. The only way to determine this is by giving it a try. If a task proves to be consistently challenging, it’s time to shrink it even more. This is where the “pfffft” test comes in. Make the task so small that you might think, “Pfffft! That’s it?” Finding the right-sized task ensures a higher chance of success.

5. Recognise the Power of Change 

We often overestimate our ability to change habits and routines. Starting with the 1-10 scale allows for a more realistic assessment and helps you discover whether a task you thought would be easy is actually challenging. This experience can be enlightening and help you adjust your expectations. Additionally, setting a “bare minimum goal” and a “stretch goal” enables you to have a target even on your toughest weeks while still pushing yourself when conditions are favourable.

By committing to putting your phone away 30 minutes before bed, you can enhance the quality and duration of your sleep. While this study offers valuable insights, it’s essential to remember that individual responses to sleep strategies may vary. Experiment with different approaches and find what works best for you. Incorporating small changes and adjusting the task size can lead to meaningful progress over time. Take control of your sleep routine and experience the rejuvenating benefits of a good night’s sleep.


How Daylight Enhances Your Sleep

Do you ever notice that you sleep better after a day filled with sunshine? Well, you’re not alone. A recent study from the University of Washington sheds light on the connection between daylight exposure and sleep. In this article, let’s dive into the study’s findings and explore why daylight is crucial for improving your sleep quality.

Seasonal Differences and Daylight

As we move away from the equator, the amount of daylight decreases during the winter months. This reduction in natural light can significantly impact our sleep patterns and body clocks. A study from the University of Washington aimed to understand how seasonal variations in light exposure affect sleep and overall sleep quality.

The Power of Light

Researchers enlisted 500 students who wore devices to track their sleep and light exposure. The collected data revealed fascinating insights. During winter school days, students fell asleep 40 minutes later and woke up 27 minutes later compared to the spring season. This shift can be attributed to the decreased exposure to natural daylight and increased exposure to artificial light in winter.

Circadian Clock and Sleep

Insufficient exposure to daylight disrupts our circadian clock, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. As Horacio de la Iglesia, a senior author of the study, explains, “If you don’t get enough light during the day, it ‘delays’ your clock and pushes back the onset of sleep at night.” In simpler terms, limited daylight exposure makes it harder for us to fall asleep at night.

Managing Light for Better Sleep

The study found a strong link between light exposure and sleep timing. When students had more daylight exposure, they tended to fall asleep earlier. Regardless of the season, participants typically fell asleep about two hours after their last exposure to a 50 lux light source. 

The Takeaway

To optimise your sleep, aim for plenty of natural light during the day, even on cloudy days, and minimise exposure to bright artificial light before bedtime. Remember, nature’s gift of daylight is not only beautiful but also essential for a good night’s sleep.


3 Steps to Escape the Sleep-Mood Spiral

Do you ever wonder if your mood affects your sleep or if it’s the other way around? It’s a common question, and scientists have been studying this intriguing relationship. In a recent study from the Netherlands, researchers set out to uncover the dynamics between sleep and mood. Let’s explore their findings and discover practical strategies to break the sleep-mood spiral.

So, here’s what happened in the study: Participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire three times a day for 30 days. They had to rate statements that reflected their emotions, worry levels, and sleep quality on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 100 (very much).

The results showed that good sleep predicts a positive mood the following day, while poor sleep predicts a negative mood. On the other hand, having a positive mood during the day contributes to better sleep, while negative emotions and worry lead to poor sleep quality. Interestingly, the impact of sleep on our mood was more pronounced than the effects of mood on sleep.

Now, how can you break free from the sleep-mood spiral? Here are some tips:

1. Recognise the Cycle 

Acknowledge the interconnected nature of worry, poor sleep, and negative emotions. Excessive worry can disrupt your sleep, leading to intrusive negative thoughts and emotional distress. Conversely, sleep problems can impair your ability to manage negative emotions effectively. Awareness of this cycle empowers you to take proactive steps toward breaking free from its grip.

2. Discover Strategies for Better Sleep

Consider incorporating cognitive behavioural techniques (CBT-I) to optimise your sleep. Create a relaxing pre-sleep ritual that helps calm your mind, such as reading a book, practising deep breathing, engaging in meditation, or jotting down your thoughts in a journal. Prioritise a sleep-friendly environment by ensuring your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Challenge negative thoughts about sleep by reframing them with positive and realistic alternatives.

3. Embrace Awake Time in Bed

Rather than becoming frustrated when you find yourself awake in bed, view it as an opportunity for relaxation and self-care. Engage in activities like reading a book or allowing your mind to gently wander. Reframe your mindset, appreciating this time as a peaceful break. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial, even if you’ve had a difficult night. Avoid the temptation to sleep in or nap, as it can perpetuate the cycle of insomnia.

Breaking free from the sleep-mood spiral requires patience and determination, but you possess the power to create positive change. By prioritising restful sleep, addressing negative emotions and worry, and implementing practical strategies, you can unlock the transformative power of restful nights. Take charge of your sleep, and watch as your mood and overall well-being flourish.

Here’s to nights filled with peaceful slumber and days brimming with positivity!


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